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International Headlines - 18 December 2013


Written by: Patrick Sweeney

 

Country index by Continent

Africa
Malawi
Asia/Pacific
Australia
China
India
Iraq
New Zealand
Oman
Phillipines
Taiwan
Europe
Armenia
Austria
Belgium
Denmark
European Union
Germany
Ireland
Macedonia
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Spain
North America
Canada
 

 

This weekly compilation of stories from wire services, newspapers and other sources is intended to keep Mercer employees and registered visitors to mercer.com informed of benefits, compensation and HR developments around the world. Facts have not been independently verified, and opinions expressed are those of the editor. Readers are invited to clarify, correct or expand on these items.


Worldwide

IAS 19 change would set discount rate by currency

Employers should set IAS 19 discount rates using high-quality corporate bonds or government bonds denominated in the same currency as the benefit obligation, according to a proposed IAS 19 amendment. Comments are due by March 13, 2014. (Mercer Select, 11 Dec 2013)

Africa

 

Malawi

Minimum wage negotiations advance

Tripartite discussions on a major minimum wage hike reportedly are nearing conclusion in Malawi. The trade union congress aims to raise the daily K317 (US$0.75) to the K500 range while the lead employers group has been looking at something closer to K400. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Asia/Pacific

 

Australia

APRA plays catch-up on super standards

The new superannuation regulator for the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has noted that superannuation standards are in their relative infancy compared to the banking and insurance industries and that APRA will be playing catch-up next year. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

High Court strikes down AU same-sex marriage law

The High Court struck down the Australian Capital Territory's gay marriage law, reasoning that the Constitution grants only the Federal Parliament the power to legislate marriage. It noted, however, that the constitutional definition of marriage doesn't exclude same-sex unions.(Mercer Select, 17 Dec 2013)

China

Enterprise annuity tax deferral announced

Employer and employee contributions to enterprise annuities up to 4% of monthly salary and investment gains will be tax-exempt when paid into a person's individual account from 1 Jan 2014, China's Finance Ministry has announced. (Mercer Select, 12 Dec 2013)

Captive insurance rules issued

A notice on regulatory issues related to captive insurance companies, comprising temporary regulations on capitalization, risk management, and transparency for a captive insurance sector, has been published by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Ministry commits to progressive retirement age hike

China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has posted a notice outlining the government's "progressive" approach to retirement age. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Plan for dismantling regional benefit system unveiled

A plan to phase out China's hukou regional benefits system, which has deprived a huge population of migrant workers of full social benefits in the cities where they work, was revealed at a high-level urbanization work conference. (Mercer Select, 17 Dec 2013)

India

Health treatment, pricing to be standardized

An official with India's Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority advised participants at a health insurance summit that the introduction of Universal Health Coverage will entail standardizing both treatment protocols and the pricing of medical treatment. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Iraq

ILO labor reform under negotiation

Local and global unions have been in consultation with Iraqi legislators and the Ministry of Labour on a revision of labor laws that would bring Iraq into compliance with core ILO conventions. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

New Zealand

Employment relations bill advances

New Zealand's divisive Employment Relations Amendment Bill has cleared a select committee with just a few minor changes despite the criticism voiced in over 12,000 submissions to the committee. The administration aims to pass the bill early next year. (Mercer Select, 12 Dec 2013)

Parental leave bill compromise in play

A popular bill that would extend paid parental leave in New Zealand from 14 weeks to 26 may escape the finance minister's threatened veto now that the government's Administration Select Committee reportedly is considering compromise scenarios. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Oman

Tax on expat remittances shelved

Oman's finance minister reportedly shelved the Shura Council's proposal to levy a 2% tax on foreign worker remittances to the home country. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Phillipines

Larger benefit tax break mulled

Philippines legislation, SB 256, that would more than double the long-unadjusted tax ceiling on Christmas bonus, 13th month pay, and other end-of-year benefits, is now under consideration in the Senate. (Mercer Select, 12 Dec 2013)

Taiwan

Pilot-zone foreign worker rules clarified

The Council of Labor Affairs has clarified the rules on hiring white-collar foreign workers in Taiwan's free economic pilot zones. While the monthly minimum wage for foreign workers will remain NT$47,971 (US$1,621), other rules will be relaxed. (Mercer Select, 11 Dec 2013)

Europe

 

Armenia

Second-pillar pension bill passes

Armenia's Parliament has passed the 2014 budget featuring the hotly contested measures on introducing a mandatory pension system requiring all citizens born after 1 Jan 1974 to have 5% of salary transferred to personal retirement accounts from 1 Jan 2014. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Austria

Agreement likely on coalition program

Austrian coalition partners are reportedly nearly agreed on a policy program that is likely to include reduced tax breaks for top earners and collective bargaining to set a minimum wage. A proposed retirement age hike is now unlikely. (Mercer Select, 12 Dec 2013)

Belgium

Bill would clarify pension solidarity contribution

Belgian pensioners covered by the social security system of another EU state, an EEA member, or Switzerland would be exempt from the pension solidarity contribution under legislation approved by the Council of Ministers. (Mercer Select, 13 Dec 2013)

Denmark

Decision supports lower wages for youth

Collective agreements providing lower pay and reduced discrimination protection for workers under age 18 did not violate an EU directive on equal treatment in employment, the Danish Supreme Court recently ruled. (Mercer Select, 12 Dec 2013)

European Union

ECJ rules in favor of same-sex benefits

Employees in civil partnerships in countries where it is not possible for same-sex partners to marry should be given the same benefits as married colleagues, the European Court of Justice has ruled. ( 16 Dec 2013)

Posted workers rules advance

A compromise agreement has been reached on new European Union rules that would improve enforcement of the posted workers directive. (Mercer Select, 11 Dec 2013)

Memo explains Posted Worker Directive

The European Commission has issued a memo to explain the mission of the Enforcement Directive for the Posted Workers Directive and to counter misinformation about the scale of cross-border posting under existing rules. (Mercer Select, 13 Dec 2013)

FTT proposal under review

Progress on the European Union's proposed Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) appears to have stalled, with some of the 11 supporting countries seeking to minimize the FTT's impact on pension funds. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Committee approves pension portability directive

The proposed EU directive on pension portability will advance to the European Parliament following agreement by the Committee of Permanent Representatives. (Mercer Select, 11 Dec 2013)

Holiday pay should include commission, says AG

Holiday pay should comprise not only a worker's basic salary but also reflect variable pay earned over a representative period, according to the EU Advocate General. The case will proceed to the European Court of Justice.(Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

AG opinion finds VAT relief for some pensions

Some defined contribution schemes could be classed as special investment funds and benefit from VAT exemption, according to an opinion from the European Court of Justice's Advocate General. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Pension funds warned about ILS investments

EIOPA has warned pension funds about a recent spike in investments in insurance-linked securities, specialized insurance risks such as catastrophe bonds. The warning came in EIOPA's Autumn Financial Stability Report.(Mercer Select, 13 Dec 2013)

EC sets out restructuring best practices

The European Commission published a non-binding communication setting out best practices for company restructuring and accompanying EU initiatives. The commission will assess the adequacy of these voluntary steps by 2016.(Mercer Select, 17 Dec 2013)

Germany

Coalition pact sealed

The parties comprising Germany's grand coalition have affirmed their work program without further modification. The policy commitments include a national minimum wage, gender board quotas, and support for occupational pensions. (Mercer Select, 17 Dec 2013)

Court rules on temp worker status

In a ruling on the employment status of long-term agency temporary workers, Germany's Federal Labor Court clarified the status of long-term temporary assignments when the worker is from a licensed agency. (Mercer Select, 15 Dec 2013)

Ireland

Pension funds to be offered partial guarantee

The Irish government has introduced legislation that would set a priority order when certain underfunded defined benefit schemes are affected by a company bankruptcy and would oblige the state to guarantee 50% of a worker's pension entitlement. (Mercer Select, 12 Dec 2013)

Macedonia

Social security contribution rates approved

The Macedonian Parliament reportedly has approved amendments to the social security law that further delay planned gradual cuts in contributions for pension and disability insurance. (Mercer Select, 13 Dec 2013)

Netherlands

Work/life initiative considered

A proposal that would require three unpaid days of paternity leave and an extension of unpaid care leave for friends and neighbors will be considered by the Netherlands' government in 2014. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Poland

Senate passes second-pillar reform

Poland's Senate quickly passed the divisive second-pillar pension reform bill without amendment and it will proceed to the president's desk. Although under pressure to approve it, he is entitled to veto or submit it to the Constitutional Tribunal. (Mercer Select, 15 Dec 2013)

Portugal

Bill to restore public holidays tabled

The Portuguese Communist Party caucus has tabled legislation that would restore four public holidays that were suspended in last year's labor reform package. (Mercer Select, 16 Dec 2013)

Spain

Bill would ban overtime for part-timers

Spanish legislators reportedly have tabled a measure for debate that would ban overtime for part-time workers. Backers say employers are increasingly abusing part-timer contracts. (Mercer Select, 11 Dec 2013)

North America

 

Canada

Quebec passes retirement savings plan legislation

Quebec has adopted the Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan (VRSP) act. Employers with 20 or more eligible employees that do not provide a savings plan will have to offer a VRSP to their employees by 31 Dec. 2016. Smaller employers have a later compliance date. (Mercer Select, 17 Dec 2013)



Comments or queries may be directed to Patrick Sweeney at +1 212 345 2462. Click here to find your local Mercer office.

 


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